Dr Thomas Mathew, an expatriate from Kerala in the US, who cherishes traditional houses, shares the uniqueness of the Malethumana house, which he built in the traditional style in Maramon, Pathanamthitta, his birthplace.
Go through the traditional gate and step onto the lush green courtyard to be immediately reminded of the beautiful houses we often see in movies, like the famed Varikkasseri Mana, which has already earned a cult image in Malayalam. The dream home is the result of years of planning, effort, and dedication.
Dr Thomas Mathew designed his house after visiting traditional homes in Kerala and Tamil Nadu. The house’s design is largely inspired by Varikkasseri Mana, with its distinctive architectural beauty. The pillars, doors, windows, and cupboards in this house are all 75 to 150 years old. As part of his hobby, Dr. Mathew collected 32 old pillars and other architectural elements like window frames from various villages in Tamil Nadu. This sparked the idea of using these elements in constructing his house. Collaborating with an architect named Biju from Pathanamthitta, they began sketching the design and commenced the construction of this dream home.
The house features a GI truss roof with tiled covering, and beneath it is pinewood panelling. The front wall was constructed using laterite stones in a traditional manner, minimising the use of cement. Upon entering the house, the first thing one notices is a long veranda reminiscent of old traditional mansions. The veranda also includes a ‘charukasera’ (a traditional lounge chair). The flooring of the veranda uses stones sourced from the quarries of Krishnagiri.
The walls of the house were built using laterite stones sourced from a quarry in Kannur, which were shaped and beautifully finished. The switches in the veranda are reminiscent of those used in olden times. The main door, leading into a stunning living space, is adorned with woodwork over a hundred years old, collected from Ambur, near Vellore. A unique feature in the living area is a small wooden boat set in the place of a tea table, chosen to blend seamlessly with the house’s theme, as the homeowner explains.
The house is adorned with Athangudi tiles, which increase in beauty as they age, laid on the floor. Another distinctive feature in the living room is the teak wood ceiling. The soul of the house is the central courtyard, around which the rest of the house is thoughtfully designed. The size of the courtyard is similar to that of the central courtyard in Varikkasseri Mana. It is filled with numerous plants, allowing one to enjoy rain, sunlight, and breeze through this space. Each time of the day brings a different ambiance to this courtyard, enriching the living experience within the house.
Surrounding the central courtyard of the house are three bedrooms, an open dining area, a kitchen, and a work area, all connected by corridors. The courtyard is paved with Kadappa stones brought from Andhra Pradesh. One of the interior walls has been transformed into a family photo gallery. In front of the house is a small field, and at the back flows the Pamba River, where the Maramon Convention takes place. There is a flight of stairs leading down to the river, and the cool breeze from there flows into the house. During the 2018 floods, water had risen in the area, but the house, constructed afterwards, has not faced any problems since.
The ambiance here truly resembles that of a riverside resort. The upper floor of the house is constructed with wood instead of concrete, featuring two bedrooms with attached bathrooms, designed to open to a fine view of the river. A long corridor connects these two rooms, adding to the house’s charming appeal. This space also includes cosy seating areas. From here, one can appreciate a different perspective of the expansive central courtyard.
The upper floor includes a gym and a library. From here, one can enjoy a stunning overview of the living area. The surroundings of the house are as beautiful as the house itself, with a large courtyard visible from the gate, abundantly lined with fruit trees and medicinal plants. Additionally, there is a pond with ornamental fish. The courtyard is laid with pebbles, maintaining a natural aesthetic. At the front of the house, a vintage bullock cart stands as a reminder of bygone times, adding to the house’s traditional charm.
Adjacent to the house, there is a garage, generator room, and drivers’ room, all designed in the same miniature theme as the house. From the balcony at the front, one can relish the surrounding greenery and the gentle caress of the breeze. The house holds a lot of surprises and it unravels as one takes a tour of the property.